Formations Summary

September–December 2018

Unit 1: James: Practical Faith

Jason Loscuito

“Faith without works,” James famously says, “is dead.” In this five-lesson unit, we will reflect on James’s sayings about practical faith. We’ll begin with a discussion of how Christians are to respond when they face trials and temptations. Next, we’ll read about putting faith into action through works. Third, we will examine how what we say or don’t say indicates the true state of our hearts. In the fourth week, we’ll confront unhealthy attitudes and behaviors that either lead to or manifest as conflict. Finally, we will hear James’s stern words against those who abuse and defraud the poor. Judgment is God’s business, not ours, but we will all be judged by the quality of our hearts and the resulting works of our hands.

Unit 2: Principles of Stewardship

Mary Elizabeth Hanchey

In this study, we will explore some of Jesus’ teachings on wealth and poverty. Although the featured passages deal specifically with finances, they also apply to other resources God has entrusted to us, including our time, talents, and material possessions. This unit approaches stewardship through four main themes: perspective, accountability, responsibility, and reward. Though Jesus resisted the lures of wealth, championed the poor, and condemned the wealthy, he also celebrated risky speculation and dishonestly, perhaps even unjustly gained wealth. We all must wrestle with these difficult, uncomfortable, and startling pronouncements in order to better follow him.

Unit 3: The Book of Ruth

Wayne Ballard

“In the days when the judges ruled…” sets the stage for the book of Ruth. Though only a few pages, Ruth is a mighty book in the history of the Old Testament. It tells a beautiful story of human, familial love, from which David is eventually born. First, Ruth 1 raises the central question, to whom or what am I faithful? Next, Boaz shows Ruth and Naomi kindness as we consider how to practice kindness for others. In week 3, Ruth and Naomi take responsibility for their own well-being, calling us to ask what bold action is called for in our own situations. In the final lesson, as Boaz fulfills his promise to care for Ruth and Naomi, we will ponder what obligations God has given each of us to fulfill.

Unit 4: The Hope of Christmas

Wayne Proctor

When we are children, our hopes at Christmastime often center on toys, games, and other wants. When we become adults, however, we have more responsibilities, and perhaps we think more about the wants and needs of others. Growing to understand what is truly important is critical to our well-being, and often well reflected by how we spend our time and money during this season. As we study Isaiah, Jeremiah, Galatians, and Hebrews, our understanding of Jesus Christ as Messiah, the Hope of Christmas, will grow. By maturing in Christ this season, we’ll be better able to resist the temptations and strains of the season, as well as the disappointment that often follows us into the new year.

January–April 2019

Unit 1: Jesus’ Ministry to the World

Taylor Sandlin

As Christmas gives way to Epiphany, we will study Jesus’ entrance into public ministry. Through the Gospel of Mark, we will first examine Christ’s baptism. Next, we will hear Jesus preach that God’s kingdom has come near to earth. We will next consider that God welcomes sinners rejected by the world’s elites into God’s kingdom. Lastly, we’ll acknowledge that Jesus’ speech and actions led to conflict with others. Although Jesus entered into public ministry two millennia ago and encountered tremendous resistance, the story of his journey remains vital to our recognition of and participation in Christ’s ministry today.

Unit 2: The Law of the Lord

Hillary B. Kimsey

In this study, we will explore the Torah, the laws spoken to Moses in the first five books of the Bible. First, we will enter God’s presence in Exodus as Moses receives the Law on Mt. Sinai. Second, we’ll examine the Ten Commandments, recounted to a new generation in Deuteronomy. Next, we will encounter instructions about holiness in Leviticus. Finally, we’ll celebrate the gift of the Law through psalms of praise. The psalmist’s delight in God’s law teaches us to view God’s instructions in a new, positive, and affirming light.

Unit 3: Striving for Holiness

Darrell Gwaltney

In this five-lesson unit, we will journey toward holiness on our journey of Lent. Using one Scripture passage in Ephesians and four in Romans, we will seek to understand the ways Christ changes our lives through personal death and resurrection. What does freedom in Christ mean when sin is relentless? How do we become a part of a community of believers? What are our individual and communal missions? Holiness can feel elusive at times. But the path toward it leads us closer to God in ways that change both the world and us.

Unit 4: The Cross and the Resurrection

LaMon Brown

In this unit, we will look at important elements in the heart of our Christian life and work. Every year, these themes are repeated in some way in our church life. As we approach Good Friday and move into Easter season, we will consider what it means to be great in God’s kingdom. Next, we will question what sort of king God is through the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Third, we will consider what frightens or amazes us about the resurrection. Finally, we will examine what and whom God has called us to bear witness to.